Review: Club Tropicana, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Fast, farcical, funny and foot-tapping, the 1980s musical comedy, Club Tropicana, which plays at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre this week, has a plot that rings of soap opera, with a dash of sketch show delivery thrown in for good measure.
Budding bride and groom, Lorraine and Olly, get cold feet and decide to jet off separately with their friends to sunnier climes and feel the heat, little knowing they’ve checked into the same hotel, Club Tropicana.
Recalling everything that was cheesy about the 1980s, but viewed through rose-tinted spectacles, Club Tropicana switches on the feelgood vibe of the era’s music. The story moves along under the musical direction of Newport’s own Charlie Ingles, as ABC’s The Look of Love is given added dramatic poignancy as an ensemble piece and Bucks Fizz’ Making Your Mind Up gains a comedic twist.
Joe McElderry heads an all-star musical-theatre cast, as hotel entertainer Garry. McElderry warms up the audience as he teaches them dance moves with a camp delivery that has echoes of the playfulness of Are You Been Served’s John Inman.
Kate Robbins clearly has fun playing chambermaid, Consuela. Celebrating her character’s rudeness at every opportunity, Miss Robbins adds an added dimension to Consuela as she impersonates a variety of characters from Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to much-loved TV presenter, Cilla Black.
Neil McDermott and Camilla Rowland give an enjoyable performance as love-struck hotel proprietors Robert and Serena, as well as a stunning rendition of Yazoo’s Only You. Similarly, the budding romantics of the piece, Karina Hind and Cellen Chug Jones as Lorraine and Olly, keep the audience guessing if they will have a happy reunion but not before performing a memorable version of A-ha’s Take on Me!
Emily Tierney has all the edge of a Dynasty diva with hidden agendas as her character Christine checks in to Club Tropicana. The diva is quickly chipped away as she gets bashed and knocked about on stage via a variety of mishaps aided by accompanying Tom & Jerry sound effects. All getting huge laughs from the audience.
There is also strong support from Tara Verloop, Kane Verrell and Rory Phelan who all add much in the way of individual fun to the proceedings by either leading the ensemble in dance, singing or bringing their own individuality to slapstick moments. My favourite was undoubtedly Rebecca Mendoza, who as Tracey had some extremely funny moments, particularly as she tries to win the affections of Olly with her rendition of Tight Fit’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight while dressed as Cher.
Another highlight of Club Tropicana is its meticulous attention to detail, among them, Lorraine’s faithful replicas of Madonna’s Desperately Seeking Susan costume and Charlene’s wedding dress from Neighbours. There are also many throwaway references to 80s pop culture to bring memories flooding back including references to Opal Fruits, video recorders and The Krankies, finished off with a blancmange pink coloured set and garish dress senses.
Clearly, the Cardiff audience loved the atmosphere and magic of Club Tropicana, which had them clapping, laughing and singing along as the 1980s spirited fast-paced comedy and feelgood vibe kept on coming.
Better than the 80s were the first time around, don’t miss your chance to book into Club Tropicana, before it finishes its current UK Tour at Wales Millennium Centre on 17 August 2019.